I got a PM with a bunch of great questions and have some semi-detailed and hopefully informed responses that I think might be helpful to others to add. I am cutting and pasting the questions and answers here if anyone is interested (with personal info deleted). Any others should feel free to post or PM with questions.
1 -How competitive did you find the students? Just went to the admitted student day a few days ago and the students interrupted each other to during the career planning session to fight over Fordham biglaw percentages.
2 -What activities would you recommend students get involved with? Are there any activities that I can participate in prior to orientation in order to meet people? And do most people make most of their friends in their sections?
3-Do most students type notes on computers or hand-write them? I have a MacBook Pro- should this work well? Is MS OneNote a better program to type notes on than MS Word for law school?
4-Is 33-40% a reasonable estimate for the % of students in the first year class who will successfully receive biglaw job offers? The numbers on the Fordham website for the class of '10 seem to indicate this but I'm wondering if you think these numbers are accurate.
5-How does the Socratic method work at Fordham? Do profs typically call on one person and make them answer questions for the whole class period or do they only require you to answer questions for a short period of time?
6- Is it difficult to find paying internships for the summer after 1L year? What are you doing this summer?
7- What advice can you offer in terms of doing well your first year?
8- Is there anything you can think of that you wish you knew prior to coming to the school? (e.g., things that you wish you had spent more time on (or less), or something about on campus recruiting that you wish you knew)?
9- Do students tend to form study groups? Did you form one and would you recommend doing so?
Let me just preface all of this by saying all of these responses are largely anecdotal and based solely off of what I've noticed at Fordham. I am also largely pleased with the school and feel great about my choice so if you choose to take my positivity with a grain of salt, I wouldn't blame you.
1. That said, let me answer your competition question first. That story about those kids could not be further from the truth about kids at Fordham and honestly I kinda wished I saw that so I could fully put them in their place and laugh at them. If they were in my section they would have been laughed out of the room. I think students here are very bright and often self-motivators, who want to do well and work pretty hard to do well. However, the students are extremely down to earth and not out to get each other or super competitive and full of themselves. Don't get me wrong, there are a couple crazies out there and a few kids who have had a couple too many drinks from the ego punch bowl, but truly, the students are so easy to get along with and it is a very laid back atmosphere. It is as competitive as you want it to be, but you won't feel too suffocated by the OCI-firm herd mentality much at all in my experience.
2. I would recommend you get involved in whatever activities interest you. I realize that might sound somewhat flippant, but there are so many informal activities and groups that it is very easy to get involved. There are a couple of those big group sign-up days and I still am on way more list serve's than I have any interest or capacity in participating in. For IP, CLIP (Center for Law and Intellectual Policy (I think)), is a organization run by some of the IP professors that had a few open houses. I personally know absolutely nothing more than that about them, but it is an option. The best way to meet people right away would be Public Service Day (not sure if that's the name, but it's close), or the SBA organized orientation bar nights. Public service day is a day of events you can volunteer for organized by PIRC, the Public Interest Resource Center. Every night of orientation there are bar specials for local bars. I went to a couple of these and they were a pretty good time. In retrospect, I would go to more, you certainly don't need to pay much attention to the school organized orientation events. They try, but these are fairly to completely useless. I would get involved in 1 or 2 other activities to meet people in other sections, but the truth is you will likely spend the vast majority of 1L year with the people in your section.
3. Most students by far type notes, but there are a few teachers that don't allow laptops in the room. Also after I had one of these professors first semester, a lot more students took hand-written notes 2nd semester. I think it's just personal preference and am much more comfortable and can take quicker notes if I type. About having a MacBook, I have, and currently use a regular MacBook and haven't had a single problem. In fact, I think more people had problems who had PC's than MacBooks and I bet the majority of people had Apple computers. Also, I never used OneNote, but I don't think it could possibly make any difference what note taking software you use. I used notepad 1st semester, then switched to regular word 2nd semester, again personal preference. I would say not to switch to a new system that you aren't comfortable with. It would be annoying to try and learn a whole new system of shortcuts and functions while typing notes and reviewing.
4. So this is an interesting question. I am starting to look into all the OCI stuff right now. At a panel the other night, they said about 40% of the class gets a position through big law. That might very well be accurate. In my experience talking with a bunch of 2L's and my counselor at the Career Planning Center, I think the number is generally top 33%ish. There are plenty of stories about those who are below that, but nailed the interview, but to be comfortable going in to OCI, I think being in the top 33% is the general benchmark. I should also add that I think our CPC counselors are pretty knowledgeable and have the student's interests at heart. They also try to be very upfront and provide us with a lot of resources that other schools might not make so available. Of course, getting a job comes down to individual effort, but I have been very pleased with the support from CPC thus far, now I'm just hoping it continues through the fall!
5. Cold-calling is very teacher specific. The vast majority of teachers do cold-call, but are not excessively harsh and generally are just doing so to foster class discussion. I have never seen a cold call that lasted a whole class, even the teacher's with prolonged questioning don't last longer than 30-40 minutes. This is not 30-40 minutes of rapid fire questioning though. It's a professor working through a case and coming back to the same person for a series of 5 or 6 questions. I wouldn't sweat the cold-calling though, it's a little nerve-wracking the first time, but once legal writing comes along and people just don't have a clue what they are talking about, you will realize it truly does not matter.
6. Finding paying internships is definitely difficult for 1L year, although I think this is true for pretty much every law school in the country. Fordham does do a decent job of providing stipends for the summer though. The Stein Scholar program provides $4,000 stipends for public interest students accepted into the program and the Fordham Student Sponsored Fellowship provides $4,000 stipends to students who help put on the yearly auction. There are also some independent scholarships available. I will note though that these stipends do not cover judicial internships and not every person who puts in the work for FSSF gets the stipend. Most do, but I think they overstated the stipend and made it sounds more like a guaranty. I do have a couple friends with paid positions, but the majority are on a stipend or unpaid.
I'm going to combine my responses to 7, 8, and 9 into a single response as they are pretty similar for me. For what advice during first year, I would look up arrow and megatttron's guides here on TLS. I can't offer much more than they did. I did pretty well (solidly in top 25% to avoid specifics), but am no where near high enough to give the best advice in this regard. I do have a couple friends who are at the very top of the class though. In general, the one thing I would do differently that may have made a difference is review more throughout the year. I should have reviewed weekly at least to make sure I understood material and then for anything I could not articulate in my own words decently, I think it would be good to go to office hours and hit the supplements. I know some people on TLS advocate against using supplements and I can honestly say this advice is terrible. Maybe for the few people who can internalize and dominate issues based on class alone, supplements are irrelevant, but for the rest of us supplements are key. Also I found being in a study group and doing as many practice tests as possible to be very helpful. Students do easily form study groups so I would not worry about that. Talking through issues with others makes you realize topics that you are less than clear on. Make sure not to over worry about memorizing each case, as this is unlikely to help you on the exam.